The American Buffalo — or Bison, is a major part of our heritage of the prairie along the border of North and South Dakota. Millions of buffalo roamed North America including the last 50,000 buffalo that had migrated into Hiddenwood Valley, then a part of the Great Sioux Reservation, located near what is now Haynes/Hettinger area.
Ardell Rae Stafne-Nelson
For the Record
The “Great Buffalo Hunt” was at Hiddenwood Cliff when 2000 men, women and children traveled 100 miles from Fort Yates to the rolling flatlands, streams and creeks at Hiddenwood Valley on foot and horseback. The Lakota Indians set up their teepees and camp and readied for the hunt of buffalo cow (pté) and buffalo bull (thathánjka) on June 20, 1882.
Since the early 1800’s, the Sioux had added rifles to their bows and arrows which resulted in the ability to kill 2000 bison on the first day. The second day was spent butchering and feasting on the humps and other tender morsels. The women sliced the remaining meat into thin sheets to dry in the sun for pemmican and jerky. The hides were readied for tanning to be used for shelter and clothing. The third day the tribal hunters fell another 3000 bison and repeated the process of eating and preservation.
Dakota Buttes Visitors Council, the Hettinger area tourism group, is celebrating this area’s rich buffalo history with the event Buffalo Fest on Saturday, June 1, 2019. Heading up this celebration are volunteers Ronda Fink, Kellie Timm and John Hausauer.
John says, “There is something for every member of the family.” The event will be centralized at Mirror Lake Park and the Granary and begins with fishing tournaments for adults and kids, sponsored by R-Z Motors and Runnings. Registration at 6 a.m. at the Mirror Lake Basketball Court. The line tossing begins at 8. Contact Kortney at 701-567-2474 for more information.
Relive history with the Buffalo Trails Tour, sponsored by the Dakota Buttes Visitors Council to Sites 2 and 3 with Francie Berg as tour guide. Participants are asked to pre-register by calling the Hettinger Area Chamber of Commerce at 701-567-2646 or 701-567-2531 so the size of bus can be determined in advance. The bus will leave the Granary shortly after 9:00 a.m. This is free.
A 3K “Buffalo Run” starts at the Granary at 9:00 for interested humans. The $25.00 entry fee includes a T-shirt with the proceeds going to the Adams County Healthy Community organization. In order to guarantee the correct shirt size, please contact Stephanie Howe at 406-939-2586.
Vendors and exhibit booths will be setting up inside the Granary from 11:00 to 4:00. Some of the products anticipated include paintings, jewelry, leatherwork, photography, furniture, crafts, woodworking and educational.
The Adams County 4-Hers will be sponsoring a concession stand from 11:00 to 4:00 for both Buffalo Fest and Citywide Rummage Sale goers.
A variety of free kids’ games will be held at Mirror Lake Park for the youth of the area, sponsored by the Hettinger Jaycees.
Speakers on the Hour will be in the Granary beginning at 11:00 with John Hausauer and the Hugh Glass story. Hugh Glass was the early explorer who encountered a grizzly bear near Shadehill, SD and his determination to survive on the virgin prairie when he was left behind on an expedition became a movie.
At 12:00, paleontolgists Clint Boyd and Becky Barnes, both of the ND Heritage Center and Geological Survey in Bismarck, will present a program on PreHistoric Bison. Boyd serves as curator of the ND Fossil Collection.
Mike Faith, Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman and former buffalo herdsman, will speak at 1:00 on the relationship between the Native Americans and the buffalo.
2:00 will find Francie Berg sharing her knowledge about the three Native American hunts – Hiddenwood Hunt, the winter hunt in the Slim Buttes, and the Butchering site.
At 3:00 Bob Mahoney of Bowman with 66 years of buffalo handling experience and mostly retired veterinarian, Don Woerner of Laurel, MT, will tell of buffalo handling and behavior as they have experienced it over the past 30 years. Be ready for some hair-raising stories.
Immediately following this presentation, five local buffalo ranchers – Steve McFarland, McFarland Ranch, Hettinger; Connor Buchholz, Skull Creek Ranch, Rhame; Jacki Limpert, Slim Buttes Buffalo Ranch, Reva; Zane Holcomb, Holcomb Buffalo Ranch, Buffalo and Larry Carr, Rafter K, Prairie City, all of South Dakota, along with National Bison Association member, Karen Conley, will hold a question and answer discussion period for anyone wishing to have more knowledge of the buffalo industry.
Funny, and as she states “cheap and lazy,” Tara Bieber of New England will give an inexpensive and easy cooking demonstration of a ground buffalo meat dish. Be prepared to be entertained, educated and tantalized with a small taste of a surprise Bieber entre’.
The members of the Dakota Buttes Historical Society/Museum, a separate entity from the Dakota Buttes Visitors Council, invite everyone to take a nostalgic trip into over a century of history at the Dakota Buttes Museum, located at 400 11th Street, South, Hettinger. The highlight of the museum’s self-tour to coincide with the Buffalo Fest would be to see Prairie Thunder, an ancestor of a buffalo that roamed the rolling flatlands of the Dakotas in his “new” stomping grounds. The museum will be open from 3:00 to 5:00.
Calling out all cooks for the Buffalo Chili and Buffalo Wing Contests sponsored by T-2 Honey Co., R-Z Motors and Hettinger Jaycees from 1:00 – 4:00. For a “fin” aka $5.00 bill you can wet your taste buds and select your winning recipe at the “Taste and Vote Contest.” Cash prizes will be awarded. Free to enter and the ground buffalo and chicken wings will be provided. Call John Hausauer at 605-850-9628 to register and make arrangements to pick up the meat. The announcement of the Buffalo Wing and Chili Contest winners will be at 5:00 p.m.
The day of celebration to honor our past will close with the Jaycee Cornhole Tournament at 5:00. Entry fee is $5.00 for individuals and $10.00 for teams. You will register at the event.
Also all day Saturday will be Hettinger’s annual Citywide Rummage Sale going in full force, along with some local businesses having in-store specials.
On an added note: On Friday, May 31, 5:30 p.m., the Adams County Fair Board will hold a fundraiser Spring Fling dinner featuring roast bison, lamb, beef, pork and goat at the Granary, along with the annual pie auction. Dance to the music of Dakota Routes. Tickets are $20.00. Tickets are available at the Hettinger NDSU Research & Extension Center. For more information contact Hannah Nordby, 701-590-4071 or Chris Schauer, 701-567-3582.
All are invited for lots of fun and reflection of a historical period of our heritage. For more information on any of these Buffalo Fest events, contact Ronda Fink, 701-567-4464, firstname.lastname@example.org; Kellie Timm, 701-928-0537; or John Hausauer at 605-850-9628, email@example.com.